Cardio-Turn Up The HIIT
Cardio. Some say do hours while some say do none at all. Some say steady state and some say HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is the way to go. I’ll explain why cardio is actually important, as well as the differences between steady state and HIIT, and my expert advice on all this cardio business.
The Benefits of Cardio
- Burns fat and calories for weight loss
- Makes your heart strong so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood
- Increases your lung capacity
- Helps reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Helps you sleep better
- Helps to reduce stress and feel better
HIIT vs Steady State
Steady-state cardio workouts are as simple as they come. Perform your activity at a steady, challenging-but-manageable pace. The fat-burning zone occurs when you work at roughly 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. It happens when your body works hard enough to burn fat, but not too intensely that it switches to sugar for energy. This can be anything from marathon running, to walking at an incline on the treadmill for an hour, to using the (dreaded) elliptical for 30 minutes.
Great for beginners:
For those just starting a weight training and cardiovascular program, I would suggest leaning toward steady state cardio to allow yourself time to build up endurance before performing any HIIT.
Performed more often:
Steady state cardio has a low enough impact on the body that it can be performed on a daily basis, if desired.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a workout method that alternates maximum effort “work” intervals with low-intensity “rest” intervals. For example, sprinting for 30 seconds, then walking for 60 seconds is high intensity interval training. HIIT can be used both anaerobically (in the gym with weights) and aerobically with cardio. Interval training should not extend much longer than 20 minutes (8-15 min is an average length of time for one session). You can perform HIIT on a treadmill, cycle, elliptical or outdoors, and you can even use equipment like battle ropes, kettle bells, sleds, barbells, jump ropes, or even your own bodyweight.
The Benefits of HIIT
- HIIT is more effective than steady-state cardio for weight loss.
- HIIT induces the “afterburn effect” post-workout, meaning that you continue to burn calories from your workout up to a few hours after you are done.
- HIIT trains your body for explosive power, helping you jump higher, sprint faster, and be overall more agile.
- HIIT improves stamina: People who have trouble completing one long workout will have more success breaking it up into quick, small chunks.
- HIIT is less time consuming. One short, intense workout has the same (if not more) benefits than a long, low-intensity workout.
So HIIT or steady state???
Both steady state and interval training have their benefits. You should not rely on just one or the other for weight loss and fitness goals. Integrating various exercises into your workout schedule will be a benefit to you and help you achieve your fitness goals. It is also important not to rely on only exercise. Balancing your diet with your workout will give you more energy and fuel for the workout while controlling calories and weight loss.
Personally, cardio and I have a love/hate relationship—and by love/hate relationship, I mean mostly hate. I’ve never understood the runners that make it seem so effortless. Some people live for that hour on the elliptical in the morning, and for others (like myself), the thought of being on an elliptical for 5 minutes makes me cringe. (Except when I finish, then I feel like Superwoman!) I personally use HIIT as part of my own training and it’s really my main form of cardio. I’ll try and fit in 2 or 3 15-20 minute sessions after workouts during the week, depending on whether I’m looking to lean out or gain muscle. Then I might do a 1-2 mile jog on the weekend if I feel like it. So my motto is definitely…. TURN UP THE HIIT!
I suggest you find what you enjoy most and go with it! As I have entered into my fitness journey, there is one factor that I’ve learned is crucial. It’s all about tuning into your body and discovering what works best for you… Cardio is no exception.